Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Does Hypoallergenic Pets Exist?

"We found no scientific basis to the claim hypoallergenic dogs have less allergen," said Christine Cole Johnson, chair of Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit Department of Public Health Sciences and senior author of the study. The study measured environmental allergen levels in the houses of 173 dog owners one month after a newborn baby was brought home.

"Studies suggest hypoallergenic cats and dogs can cause just as many symptoms as the regular kind," says James Seltzer, MD, a spokesperson for the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. That’s because skin and saliva proteins, not just hair, trigger allergy symptoms. So don't think that just because the pet shed less fur or hair means you are safe from allergy. That said, dogs that shed a lot, such as Labradors or collies, will cause more reaction in allergy sufferers simply because dander is released with the fur, according to Dr. Sai Nimmagadda, an allergist at Lincoln Park’s Associated Allergists and Asthma Specialists Ltd.

And cat allergy is usually worse than dog allergy because cats are natural self-groomers and they lick themselves, so they are covered in their own saliva. According to Dr. James Sublett, the vice chair of  Arlington Heights-based American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology’s Indoor Environments Committee, cat saliva is one of the major sources for allergies, and it’s particularly potent due to its tiny size – about three-hundredths the size of the cross-section of a human hair – and its ability to attach to other particles and be transported through the air.

So the sad truth is, there isn't any truly hypoallergenic pets (except for those with scaly skin like iguanas and snakes!), but there are some steps you can take to lower your exposure to the allergens if you really want to own a pet. Watch out for a post later on this topic.

Credit: Health.com, Northwestern university, Mother Nature Network

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